Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Fiedler Finally Finds Niche as Dolphins QB

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Fiedler Finally Finds Niche as Dolphins QB

Article excerpt

The most difficult part of Jay Fiedler's season may have occurred before he even threw a pass.

First, the fifth-year pro, who had spent the 1999 season with the Jaguars as a backup quarterback, had to face that his future was not in Jacksonville. With the Jaguars' trust in Mark Brunell -- and only Brunell -- Fiedler signed as a free agent with Miami. The Dolphins only needed to replace the retiring Dan Marino.

Second, Fiedler sustainedpreseason injuries that limited his playing time while he competed with incumbent Dolphins backup Damon Huard for Miami's starting job. After Fiedler was picked to start the season opener, Marino added fuel to aquarterback controversy by proclaiming on national television, "I don't think he has earned it."

Since the first snap of the season, Fiedler has guided Miami to an 8-2 record and first place in the AFC's Eastern Division. Meanwhile, the Jaguars are 3-7 and trying to stay out of the AFC Central basement.

"This is beyond what I thought it would be coming down here," Fiedler said. "Jacksonville gave me a shot to put myself on stage and perform in front of the league and show everyone I can do it. I'm thankful that coaches [Dave] Wannstedt and [Chan] Gailey gave a me a shot."

Wannstedt and Gailey were not looking for the next Marino. Fiedler has thrown 10 touchdown passes in 10 games -- a pace that would require 25 years for him to match Marino's all-time best 420 NFL touchdown passes. However, Fiedler is more mobile than was Marino.

Fiedler is averaging more than 21 yards rushing per game, an average of 4.5 yards a rush. The numbers aren't great, but his ability to prevent sacks has helped turn 3rd-and-outs into 1st-and-10s. Last season, Marino rushed six times for minus six yards.

As Steve Young did when he replaced Joe Montana, Fiedler is using a steady arm and ready legs to effectively fill the big hole. Fiedler has completed 136-of-238 passes for 1,599 yards. In their first four games, the Dolphins averaged 14.8 points per game. In the last six contests, Miami has averaged 26.3.

"The objective is to come out with a win, not to come out with throwing yards or statistics," said Gailey, the Dolphins offensive coordinator. …

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